"I was feeling quite confident, until we stepped out onto the stage yesterday and I realised that nobody could hear me! I’ve been quite cocky going, 'Yes, I didn’t have any problems last time!' Then I got out there and everyone was like, 'Can’t hear you! Can’t hear you! No consonants, no breath, neck tension!'
Returning to the Globe, Sirine takes us through her previous experience with plays, the Bard, and performing at the Globe.
Time: 5 minutes 39 seconds
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Transcript of Podcast
Rona Kelly: Welcome back to Adopt an Actor.
Sirine Saba: Thank you.
RK: Today we are joined by Sirine, who is playing Regan in King Lear. So why don’t we start with a bit about you. How did you get into acting? Can you remember the first production maybe you saw where you went, ‘Yes, this is what I want to do’?
SS: It wasn't so much a production, it was more growing up watching all the old MGM musicals aged sort of three or four. Watching The King and I and The Sound of Music and Oliver, and all the Gene Kelly films. I don’t quite know why I watched them or who gave them to me. My parents aren't massively into all that, but I always had them at home; it must have been something to do with my parents! But I was just obsessed with the movie musicals and that’s what I think initially engaged me, entranced me, obsessed me from as far back as I can remember.
I grew up in Cyprus; I’m not Cypriot but that’s where we lived, because that’s where my dad worked. We’d come to London to visit family and we’d always go and see shows, but I was already hooked. I remember being off from school and all I wanted to do was watch hours and hours of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. If I was ill that was all I ever wanted to do was watch Anchors Away and Invitation to the Dance, all those beautiful dancing films from the thirties, forties and fifties. Then it just became something that I always knew I that wanted to do, but didn’t think that I would ever do it somehow. Cyprus isn’t the most (at the time anyway)…but I went to a school that had a wonderful auditorium. So whenever there would be visiting companies to the island, they’d come to the capital where I grew up and they’d perform at the auditorium. So we got to see quite a lot. Also, our headmaster really liked to stage the big musicals. By the age of thirteen, we were doing Mary Poppins, Oliver, King and I, My Fair Lady, Sound of Music, Wizard of Oz, we did all of those. And he had an orchestra, because he used to force all the teachers to play in the orchestra so that he could conduct!
RK: Just one teacher like [with a] triangle.
SS: That’s right, that’s right, that’s right! He sort of used to force all the students to do the musicals, but he didn’t have to force me! A lot of the boys were like, 'Oh God, we’ve got to be guests at the ball in The Sound of Music!' [Not] willing at all. And then it just kind of…God, if I ever thought that that I’d actually make it. I never thought that I’d make a career out of it, never. Just about managed to scrape through!
RK: And now you’re at the Globe! 'Consider Yourself' at home at the Globe now?
SS: I wouldn’t say at home! I have to say that I was feeling quite confident, until we stepped out onto the stage yesterday with JANICE, and I realised that nobody could hear me and I wasn’t pronouncing my consonants! I’ve been quite cocky going, 'Yes, I didn’t have any problems last time and actually it’s a really inclusive space! And you don’t really have to project that much, as long as you pronounce your consonants'. Then I got out there and everyone was like, 'Can’t hear you! Can’t hear you! No consonants, no breath, neck tension!' And it was just like, 'Oh my God!' So no, I don’t feel at home at all...yet!
RK: We are only in Week Three...
SS: That’s true, very true.
RK: …so we’ve still got time. We’ve still got time with Giles [Block].
SS: I don’t know how it happened last time; it just took care of itself. But Regan is a bigger challenge than Charmaine who I played last time. Everything is a challenge, but this is slightly more challenging.
RK: So as you said you’ve been at the Globe before. Can you take us through any productions that you’ve done previously, including the one here.
SS: Okay, well my first proper job out of drama school was in Michael Boyd’s landmark production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Royal Shakespeare Company. I played First Fairy, I insisted on telling everyone! My friend Rebecca played Moth and she remembers that I used to march up to her and go, 'Hello, I’m playing First Fairy'. So that nobody would think that I was just a fairy!
RK: No, it’s the first fairy!
SS: 'I'm First Fairy, she’s got a scene!' That was my first proper paid job really, six months out of drama school and an amazing, amazing production. First Fairy and Puck: brilliant, imaginative, ground breaking scene I think, in the way that Michael Boyd directed it. And then the RSC very kindly had me back a couple of years later when I played Miranda in The Tempest, again directed by Michael Boyd. That’s all the Shakespeare I’ve done there, I’ve done other shows there but not Shakespeare.
I then did a couple of seasons at Regent’s Park where I did Titania in Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Kate in The Taming of the Shrew, and Olivia in Twelfth Night. And then I went back to the Park a few years later and I played Hermione in The Winter’s Tale. So, a fair bit! But I tell you, it doesn’t really make much difference I don’t think. You come to something new and it’s new language and it’s new thoughts and it’s a new intention, and everything goes out the window, because you have to get to know the new person.
You have I suppose a sort of mild confidence that you have spoken Shakespeare before, and managed to get away with it! So that gives you a slight bit of confidence. But by no means do you sit there and go, 'Oh, I’ve played Kate in The Taming of the Shrew, I can do this!' Absolutely not! You are right back to square one as far as I’m concerned. Yes, terrified and incapable!
RK: Whether you’re First Fairy or Titania, you’re still going to be speaking the same words that Shakespeare wrote.
SS: A hundred percent. Yes, but it’s a new journey every time so you can’t rest on any previous laurels at all, certainly personally.
Thanks to Alison for the transcription of this interview.